Leadership framework vs pyramid

At the Global Leadership Summit former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina presented a simple leadership framework she has used to help lead people in her organisations. Her framework looks a little something like this:

leadership framework

She begins with vision, strategy, and goals. People need to know where we’re headed and why. Second she talked about organisation/team/structure/process – the who, what and how of implementing the vision/strategy. Third she talked about the importance of having some metrics – people know what you value by what you measure. Fourth she spoke of the necessity of healthy cultures if people are to flourish in the organisation. Fiorina suggests that you set the framework and set people free to work and use their initiative. It’s a helpful visual tool for thinking about  the various aspects of leadership. I’m not sure though whether it confuses some things which need to be kept distinct. I’m also not sure all of those things are of equal importance.

So I’ve been thinking and reflecting on Carly’s presentation, and have tried to come up with my own version which I think may addresses some of the weaknesses I perceive in her model. Here it is:

leadership pyramid

The most important element is at the bottom – mission. This dictates core values (which should include culture) which in turn shapes a vision. Only then can we move to goals which in turn shape the strategy and structure. Metrics are important, but probably the least important of these elements. Now I don’t know if this is too complex in terms of having too many elements, and I’m not sure I’ve got them in the right order.

But what do you think? I’d love your thoughts and input in how you might do this exercise?


2 Replies to “Leadership framework vs pyramid”

  1. Martin, I like your thinking and attempt to put in some detail and order here. Some things to think about. There’s a sense both in which you are able to set out an order and show salience here but sometimes it’s not quite like that.

    For example do we start with mission and then move to vision? Possibly -but then you might be taking your organisation in the wrong direction. Maybe better to start by describing a vision of where you want to be and then make it your mission to get there.

    Metrics -both in the sense that she’s equating this with results /outcomes and in terms of defining measures -yes it’s the end of things. But we also often start with them. We rarely have a clean sheet of paper. I’m going to take a punt here that in terms of Fiorina’s business background things like either Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing will have influenced her thinking on business. In both those approaches you spend lots of time measuring and observing before you decide the action you are going to take. From that point of view metrics are very important.

    Little tangent -my pre pastoral background was in the support end of the aerospace and defence industry. One of the key thinkers in terms of support is/was a guy called John Seddon who applied lean thinking to service (he spent a lot of time with call centres). His big emphasis was on getting the measuring right. Three things (1)he was anti -targets because they led to cheating. (2) He had a bee in his bonnet about people not understanding capability and variation (3) He spent a lot of time measuring “failure demand” by which he meant that we shouldn’t confuse productive work (supplying to genuine demand) with unproductive failure demand (i.e. call centres measured their success on how many calls they took and how quickly the dealt with them but really they were just counting all the failures to deal with the original issue).

    Anyway returning to the model. don’t think this necessarily means your wrong to draw a model like you have -the aim of the model will highlight specific things but won’t tell you everything about the real life reality. I think john Frame would be happy with that!

    Hope this helps. Look forward to seeing how you develop it.



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